Not using social media in recruitment? You’d better start

December 6, 2009

Last week I attended the ATC Social Media Conference that focused on the use of social media in recruitment. There were ~130 people present:  in-house corporate recruiters (the majority), ~15% were agency recruiters and a handful of HR and other professionals.

Mark Pesce kicked off the day with a talk called “Everything old is new again” and put forth that using social media in recruitment is about using different tools to get the same thing done. Just like with using email, phone and face-to-face meetings, tools such as Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace and FaceBook (and the list goes on!) can be used to communicate with and attract your candidates.

Lesson 1: Social media does not need to be approached with the raised eyebrows and fear that many recruiters (and HR professionals) have. It really is not that scary.

Mark did a quick poll of the room – of the ~130 attendees a mere 15-20% used Twitter and 70% used FaceBook. I think the stat for FaceBook was artificially high as I would hazard a guess that most people use it exclusively for personal purposes. But that’s not to say that it can’t be used as a recruitment tool, and a successful one at that. Margie Kwan from Ernst and Young spoke about how they use FaceBook to interact with and attract graduates. Their FaceBook page has since become the top referrer to their careers site and has helped them communicate the many graduate opportunities available inside the company, outside of accounting.

When I heard Mark comment on the timeframe over which recruiters have to become adept with social media tools (below) I was confused. Did I hear right? Recruiters have a few years to catch up with social media tools. What?

You have at least a few years to become adept with the tools, and a few more to build out those nationwide networks. But I can promise this: at the close of the 2nd decade of the 21st century, recruiting will look entirely different — Mark Pesce.

Full transcript of Mark’s presentation, here.

I really think this is the wrong message. If you are a recruiter who is not using social media, you are already falling behind. Quickly. Particularly in industries where social media is being used by employers and candidates alike to create their own social networks or by using recruitment agencies who have already cottoned-on.

Social media means increased accessibility to information and people – boundaries are fast becoming a thing of the past. Smart companies and candidates are already one step ahead and are actively using social media to their benefit. In an unconference session on LinkedIn later in the day, Riges Younan, the facilitator asked the room “Are you guys scared about what’s being talked about today?”

Lesson 2: If you are not using social media in recruitment, start getting involved now.

Spend the time understanding where your candidates spend time in the online (and offline) world. An online presence on Twitter, FaceBook or LinkedIn may work for one company, but fail for another if their candidates are not using the same tools. Dan Nuroo, who also attended the conference wrote a good post on this. Social media shouldn’t replace traditional means of recruitment, but that’s another story!

There were a lot of other great talks and sessions at the conference. A big thank you to the organisers, speakers, and to all the Tweeters I got to meet and catch up with in person – proof of social media in action!

The 2010 conference is already in the works. If you’re an agency recruiter,  make sure you’re there or feel the wrath of Riges Younan and Ross Clennett. You’ve been warned.


  1. Interesting post. I think people using twitter end up spamming people unless you invest the time into understanding it and developing relationships. The language can be difficult to understand, for example – RT, @, # and lists. I think many people have looked and been put off by the language and sheer volume of messages once you get a few followers. With FB, Linked In and Twitter, you still need to follow the same relationship building techniques as you would in normal life, but using a slightly different medium. Too many people abuse and FB twitter by making it all “look at me”

  2. Thanks for your comment, Karalyn. I think it takes time to understand how to use Twitter to get value out of it, and contribute value to it (by ‘it’ I mean a person’s followers, and the people they follow). It’s definitely not for everyone.

    By taking time to become familiar with the various functions it is possible to reduce some of the white noise. Example: creating a list of say people in marketing who you know only tweet about on-topic things, or by saving a search with a #marketing tag to pick up topic related tweets. That way you don’t have to search through your entire Twitter stream to pick up relevant tweets. Whether or not those tweets will be of ‘quality’ is an entirely different matter (there’s only so much you can fit into 140 words!)

    I definitely agree that you still need to focus on building rapport and dialogue rather than using it simply as a one-way broadcast tool.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: